The United Kingdom has temporarily closed its embassy in North Korea and pulled out its diplomatic personnel from the country, the UK ambassador to Pyongyang has announced.
“The British Embassy in Pyongyang closed temporarily on 27 May 2020 and all diplomatic staff have left the DPRK for the time being,” Ambassador Colin Crooks said in a post on Twitter on Thursday, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name.
Crooks did not mention the reason for the unexpected decision, but the UK Foreign Office said in a statement that the move had been made because “restrictions on entry to the country have made it impossible to rotate our staff and sustain the operation of the Embassy.”
It added that London maintained diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and would seek to re-establish a presence in the North Korean capital as soon as possible.
The flag at the British diplomatic mission was also taken down.
Separately, the Seoul-based NK News, which monitors the North, said in a report citing unnamed sources that British diplomatic personnel had crossed North Korea’s land border into China, as flights remained on hold over coronavirus concerns.
North Korea has introduced intense measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak even though it has reported no cases. The country has banned almost all cross-border travel and put foreigners in quarantine as a precautionary measure.
Back in March, a number of other countries, including Germany and France, also withdrew their representatives from North Korea and closed their embassies there.